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Nowadays, police aren't the only form of enforcement that drivers need to watch out for. This somewhat new addition is not as easily spotted as the police, and though you may catch its flashing light in your rearview mirror, it offers the offending party little chances for explanation. This new menace to drivers is the red-light traffic camera. Initially implemented to reduce the number of red-light offenders, this system has revolutionized the way in which red-light traffic violations are handled.
One red-light traffic camera system used within Washington, called the Axsis RLC-300 Camera System, is provided by American Traffic Solutions, Inc., who completed a pilot study in Seattle, Washington to gage the effectiveness of the camera system. The study showed that within a twelve month period, the cameras helped to reduce red-light traffic violations by 50%. The Axsis RLC-300 is comprised of three basic mechanisms.
First, there is the camera which takes quality still photos in color. Second, there is the video camera, used to gain a wider view of the vehicle in question, as well as any surrounding vehicles, cyclists, or possible pedestrians within the intersection. Third and finally, there is the vehicle sensing device, which triggers the still and video cameras when it senses a possible red-light violating vehicle approaching.
The photos and video of possible offending vehicles are transmitted electronically from the traffic camera system to the American Traffic Solutions Data Center. The evidence is then reviewed and it is determined if an actual offense has occurred. Finally, trained officers review the evidence once more to assure that an offense has truly taken place, and then issue a notice of infraction (NOI), or a citation by mail. In accordance with the law, this entire process must take place within fourteen days of the violation.
When an offending vehicle is caught, a citation is mailed to the registered vehicle proprietor. Along with the NOI, an image of the vehicle when the traffic signal is red behind the stop line, an image of the vehicle clearly past the stop line with the signal still red, and an image of the license plate of the offending vehicle are all sent to the vehicle owner. Those images are also made accessible to the vehicle owner, court personnel, and police reviewers by way of the American Traffic Solutions website.
After receiving the NOI, the vehicle owner has three options: pay the fee, request a Municipal Court trial to contest the citation, or try to get the citation cancelled by submit an affidavit that explains s/he was not operating the vehicle when the offense took place. Thankfully, red-light violations are considered parking infractions, and therefore do not affect the registered owner’s driving record. However, these proceedings can be somewhat taxing, so they should and can be avoided all together.